John Paul II Catholic Traditions
This email was originally sent to a priest for a dialogue. Written by a former seminarian who is now a lawyer, it was sent to me for posting in my blog. Every point he raises on these many Catholic traditions which John Paul II propagated is worth every Catholic's consideration and reflection. Unless we ask the right questions, we will never get the right answers.
I am for the most part an inactive Catholic….altar boy…former seminarian…..educated professional…J.D. In another since, I am active…just not in the traditional non-thinking…mindless mind numbing way that the Church offers through its rigid theological practices manifested by ceremonial rites, like the Mass, H Eucharist, Benediction, Stations of the Cross, Baptism, Confirmation, and Conversion some of which are accompanied by Chrism all of which are peppered with invocations involving religious references incorporating adjectives like blessed, holy or sacred.
I thought perhaps I could dialogue with you to experience some measure of understanding to another point of view that is not premised upon…well….the scriptures…as if there is any literal validity to them anyway…given the times in which scripture was supposedly recorded, fact checked, preserved through the ages and the disparity existing in many of the accounts referring to the same subject matter…..the acknowledgement by scriptural historians of the real date of the actual compilation of many of the supposed gospels and the conceded revisions thereto by Church prelates over the centuries.
I would begin by asking, what of the poor souls who preceded the coming of Christ, who were without prophets, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Aaron, Joshua, Samuel, Eli, or Moses, tablets, an Ark of the Covenant, Christ and his disciples and uh, ….well, you know the rest…. Saved? Doomed? Forgiven? Redeemed? Or, are they getting there on frequent walker miles… earned troding lifetime through their individual vale of tears?
What are these BC souls stained with ‘original sin’ going to plead? “Honest Lord, I was not aware of you or that you were coming. I did not have Judaeo-Christian law. Besides, if I had been born a Jew and had access to prophets and your Church too, I might have had a chance; but as an Eurasian, well, er, uh, I never heard of these theological concepts which when followed ensure salvation”.
Don’t you just love the Catholic Church…..you do not just have original sin, you’re stained with it no matter when you entered the time line of humanity !
Recently Cardinal Francis George tapped the Rev. Bob Barron of St. Mary’s of the Lake to conduct “Mission Chicago 2006” to host a six part series of talks at various locations to revitalize the nation’s third largest Roman Catholic archdiocese which currently struggles with low Sunday mass attendance, continuing allegations of sexual abuse by priests and piercing questions about faith.
A religion staff reporter for the Chicago Tribune, Margaret Ramirez, reported that the assignment offered as an aid ( and I quote her here ) from the “straight-talking boss in the red skullcap, just one weapon: the power of the Gospels”.
To which I would reply rhetorically…the Gospels?.....indeed!
Ever wonder why the church is where it is today, both here and abroad, at the crossroads of insignificance and lost identity, struggling for relevance in a culture it once defined with its churches, excluding those not sold to pay for sex abuse settlements and judgments, in danger if not destined to become museums of Christianity, more likely to be visited by tourists with guidebooks than parishioners with prayer books?
The answer is because the church is run by conservative ignorant men whose intellectual thought processes gravitate to preserving the status quo of values which are more concerned with form than substance and which are deeply rooted in tradition, and whose leaders are motivated by an unwillingness to question past practices to determine if they comport with Christian concepts on the one hand or represent comfortable familiarity with the ignorance they represent and innate human reluctance to change on the other.
Ever question the practice of Cardinals, Bishops, kneeling before the Pope “kissing his ring”?
This is a church that hangs on to “trappings” of monarchy as Cardinals and Bishops genuflect before the Pope kneeling to kiss his ring like medieval Earls, Barons, Knights paying homage to their king, where the emphasis is more on form and appearance than on substance and where symbolism and religious pageantry pay lip service to religious sophistry.
If I see one more Cardinal, Bishop or priest genuflect and kneel before the Pope and “kiss the ring of the outstretched hand” of the Pontiff like some “courtier” paying homage to his king......I think I will throw up.
Ever wonder how church vestments and symbols of church power and leadership came into existence?….they certainly were not the product of Christ’s direction. Witness:
· The Humeral veil used in benediction, a cloth of rectangular shape 8 ft. long by 1½ ft. wide, edges of which are usually fringed, adorned with the name “Jesus” or a cross in the center, worn so to cover the back, shoulders and humerus bone of the arm—hence its name, with its two ends hanging down in front fastened across the breast with clasps or ribbons to prevent its falling from the shoulders as the celebrant raises the Monstrance containing the enlarged host representing the body of Christ held by hands beneath the humeral veil as if it were disrespectful to hold the Monstrance with “bare hands”…..and Muslims climb Mt. Arafat and throw stones at pillars symbolizing the devil celebrating the feast of Eid al-Adha commemorating Abraham’s supposed? willingness to sacrifice his son…and we are to bow our heads upon hearing the name Jesus and they recite, “peace be unto him” upon hearing the name of the world’s last self-proclaimed prophet from this ‘revelation rife’ area, longitude 31.71 N, latitude 35.10 W, the middle East.
· Bishop’s Crosier or shepherd staff some of which have been made or adorned with gold, silver or ivory, Pope’s ring, he bright colored liturgical garments of various shapes and sizes.
· Bishops Mitre hat
All of which neither Jesus or Christ ordained but which are entirely contrived by man, not unlike “neon signs” which all serve to adorn the “peacock” prelate. Necessary? A little bit of majesty maybe?...elevating a shepherd of sheep to....well a shepherd of a different flock? A Shepherd that wears a Mitre hat, an episcopal ornament for the head whose origin lies in Greek symbolism, that a high pontifical hat that swells outward but rising to a “peak” conveys importance...but is “dutifully removed while praying”...well, because when a man prays, he shall pray with “uncovered head” Corinthians, xi 4.
These accouterments adorn the peacock prelate who by the way who does not struggle like his flock on the journey traversing life’s path, navigating secular, moral and ethical dilemmas among which include birth control, education, employment and layoff, spousal relationship or abuse, commitment, finances, with income always being chased by never ending debt, and child rearing hardships to name but a few.
No, the Church has become and is centered more on tradition and ceremony, indeed more on pomp and circumstance than upon intrinsic values celebrating a divine belief. Did Peter or Christ need or use a mitre hat, a crosier staff, and colorful vestments? Did Peter kneel before Christ to kiss his hand? Indeed, just the opposite, with Christ supposedly washing the feet of his apostles.
Can you imagine a Bishop showing up without these accouterments and for once, being like just one of us, instead of “one of them” moving down life’s path in the long line of succession to St. Peter” hoping to receive his hundred fold as reward for a lifetime of service to the Lord? I suspect though He, already, surveying the pathetic landscape of Cardinals, Bishops and priests changed His mind and gave it all, the ‘hundred fold’ for every roman catholic cleric, to some obscure woman by the name of....uh...uh....oh yah, Mother Teresa!
Ever question the church’s stance on birth control?
Can you imagine the ignorance of a Church which maintains that artificial birth control, ie: some alternative form of contraception be it the pill, condom, IUD, spermicidal, or diaphragm is sinful while at the same time advocating birth control by a practice formerly known as “rhythm”, or the timing of the female fertility cycle, maintaining the latter is not.....when BOTH methods, “artificial vs. rhythm” depend upon intent not to conceive.
It is absolute sophistry to maintain that employing the practice of “rhythm” or abstinence, Natural Family Planning as it is known today, is or could in intellectual honesty, be considered “open to life” if the intent of employing either is to avoid conception....which it is.
How can anyone employing any method, including abstinence, hoping to avoid conception, be considered as being “open to life”.....except only by mistake or error in timing is conception possible...and this is being “open to life”?
I guess intellectual honesty comes in all forms....I once believed that there was a universal quality to it....as in one truth.......the church’s view has demonstrated that indeed for some, intellectual honesty is in the eye of the beholder.
Just for the science, in recognition of the concept of “free will”, can we agree that the initiation of conception is not in God’s hands....he is the facilitator....allowing humans “free will” in opting for artificial means or natural family planning methods, and upon the failure of the latter, he is there to “grant life” in response to “being open to life”, even if being “open to life” was a mistake by the participants…as in abstaining one day too early or one day too late… and that’s “open too life”….what sophistry!
You gotta love these Catholic theologians who “dream this stuff up” so some Pontiff can re-package it in two Latin words, like “Humanae Vitae” with the force of “infallibility”, whoa in an Encyclical no less.
Close your eyes for a moment and reflect...yep!, that’s Him ( the guy upstairs ) you see smiling in your mind’s eye amused at the circuitous route taken by the “faithful” to arrive at some measure of peace in following the “church’s teachings”, however misguided.
Ever wonder how is it that 3 times in 1500 years “the word of God” was revealed to men and ONLY men calling themselves either prophets or disciples and ONLY in this part of the world…the Middle East…hotbed of revelation! Couldn’t have had female prophets back then…they were either “pushing and bearing down” or when not in labor, busy carrying water in amphoras from the village well, preparing meals or ‘dancing with seven veils’ before some king.
The prophets: Abraham Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Samuel or Eli all men of Semitic ethnicity who received revelations compiled in the Jewish Torah...the word of God
Of course this was followed 2000 years ago by the appearance of Christ whom Muslims believe to be a prophet [ from an area since the earliest of recorded times, prophets abound ] whose life was memorialized biographically and whose words were supposedly written down for posterity by disciples ( all men ) and Gospel writers all of whom were men like Paul but also ethnic Semites resulting in the Christian Bible…again by men of antiquity….well after the fact, no doubt from their memory and from the memories of others interviewed for their recollections of Him, again without benefit of copier, laptop, fax, scanner, ‘live feed’ or after checking with ‘two fact sources’ to determine accuracy!
Lastly, this was followed by yet a third revelation to yet a 3rd male of Semitic lineage, Muhammad, again who came from the same vicinity, the Middle East…that ‘hotbed’ of divine revelations, only this time over a period of 22 years from 600 to 622 A.D resulting in…..da da the Koran, the Islamic Bible of sorts for Muslims, complete with references to the same Jewish personages of the Torah, Isaac and Abraham, the angel Gabriel and an account of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt and of course Jesus, another prophet according to Muslims.
Why the emphasis on male and Semitic? It should be obvious that in the male controlled environment, ONLY males claimed to have received revelation, the word of the Lord, but were more likely sharing the same story like “neighbors over the fence” prompting an astute observer to ask...was it revelation or repetition of similar events and stories circulating for centuries in the same locale, separated by just enough generations without a recorded history, that in each reappearance thereof......well, it is a new revelation...but in reality looking at the three....more like a sharing of the similar story among people of the same locale...controlled by the same ethnicity and gender….all Semitic and all male!
How could any revelation or gospel be even close to being accurate when only males received or wrote them from their perspective without benefit of phone, fax, copier, Fed Ex or crystal ball….only tablets handed out on a mountain top? If we are to believe otherwise, I guess women ought to begin tracing their lineage to determine from which rib of Adam they owe their existence.
Ever wonder why we Catholics celebrate the Assumption, the first of two in “recorded belief ”. The second? Muslims believe Muhammad was assumed at the Dome of the Rock. Wonder where they got that one?
As Catholics, we were infallibly instructed by Pius XII in 1949, only 4 short years after the ending of the greatest conflagration to beset modern man, WWII, that the Virgin Mary was Assumed into Heaven. An infallible belief if you will, not a fact…but who cares or should care?
Don’t you love Papal infallibility. Prior to election he is a mere mortal, and a conniving political one at that, “jockeying” for position in the College of Cardinals angling for that all important vote….then in the instant of political election, “presto” is invested with infallibility…rivaling Johnny Carson as Karnack the Magnificent, prompting astute observers to question whether Carson and some Popes share the same ancestral lineage.…love to have the Pope pick my lottery numbers though.
I know, infallibility comes with the office not with the man…yah sure, but which also leaves unexplained many of the Church’s infallible missteps along the way over the years.
Mary was and is referred to as Virgin because of the Church’s preoccupation with sex “as sinful”, not being able to tolerate that the mother of God could have been impregnated by Joseph at the behest of the “Holy(?) Spirit” where both Joseph and Mary would be the Blessed “Mother and Blessed Father”. Why does the Spirit have to be Holy? How about just the Divine Genie.
I mention that the Assumption was proclaimed by Pius XII in 1949, because the world endured a economic depression from 1929 to 1938 followed by a six year war ending in 1945…prompting one to ask, how the hell could the Church devote such resources, have supported the men, education, and research for that many years, to the esoteric topic of Assumption, when so much privation and genocide was in its midst?
If you are at all introspective, you have to ask yourself, is it really important to your salvation that the Blessed Mother was assumed? If she was the mother of the son of God, we would expect that she was ‘cut a break’, that she is no longer in the ground in either Jerusalem or Ephesus, depending upon what you believe, or never was in the ground ie: assumed into heaven upon the moment of death.
But….whether she got there ( heaven ) in a Lexus, a Mercedes, a Cadillac or by Assumption does not and will not mean a rat’s ass in terms of OUR salvation if we do not recognize the larger picture of the poor, the homeless, universal healthcare, and equitable distribution of resources, etc.
That is what salvation is about…not how the Blessed Mother got to Heaven…BUT for the Church to have spent the resources $$ for numerous educated priests for 20 plus years, to arrive at the conclusion of the Assumption which is only but an educated guess at best is a travesty in the prudent allocation of resources…when the $$ and human energy allocated to this inquiry could have been better spent on the poor.
Ever wonder why we observe the feast of the Circumcision, as it was formerly known, now Solemnity of Mary, as a holy day of obligation…..a rite of Jewish passage in removing the foreskin of the male which is now considered a “best medical practice”? How the hell is observance of this event going to bring anyone closer to salvation?
Do you think Christ would care if some little girl, seeking to make her first communion with her class, requested a host made of rice in lieu of a one made of wheat because she had celiac sprue disorder with its serious adverse health consequences involving an allergy to wheat with the inability to digest gluten contained in wheat?... problems which can include osteoporosis, tooth-enamel defects, nerve damage, internal hemorrhaging, organ disorders, and a greater likelihood of gastrointestinal cancer.
The request by Haley Waldman’s mother to the ignorant archbishop John Smith of Trenton New Jersey was denied in 2004 because rice is not wheat and only wheat could serve as the appropriate intermediary, the Bishop maintaining only unleavened wheat was use at the ‘last supper’. Can you believe it? What a jerk!
Maybe the bread was rye, barley, or some other ancient ‘pulse’ like spelt that He used, who knows? It wouldn’t be the first time Scripture says that He used barley loaves....“There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves , and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?” (John 6:9)...”Therefore they gathered together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.” (John 6:13)
Were any of the Church’s current eminent thinkers and scholars there....the “all important last supper”? More importantly, who cares what He used? Christ wouldn’t! Only a male idiot like archbishop John Smith of Trenton New Jersey would!
As I pointed out earlier, the doctrine of “transubstantiation” ie: consecrated bread becoming the body of Christ, was not declared until the year 1215 by Pope Innocent III after the Fourth Lateran Council and until then the bread and the words were considered only to be symbolic of the request of Christ to do this in his memory. So much for the importance of what type of bread is the intermediary.
Ever wonder how the church can and does spend it resources without input from its stockholders? Cardinal Roger ‘the dodger’ Mahony just spent $200 Million in 2004 building the Cathedral of…you guessed it…“Our Lady” in Los Angeles , when a $5 million cathedral would have done just fine. Do you think Mahony accounts to Rome on finances?.....I doubt it! Don’t you think we ought to know as a Sunday contributors?......Where is it invested?…….Spent?....Are we to be dopes all our lives? Think Christ would have approved this expenditure?
Ever wonder why the priesthood attracts so many gays, weirdoes, pedophiles and psychological misfits instead of the best and the brightest?
The answer is: because of the very construct of the priesthood - being open to men and only men, it does not seek the best and the brightest but rather appeals to a sizeable segment of misfits among the male population who see in it an opportunity only too good to be true…like putting the fox in charge to guard the hen house…a ready made stable of ‘boys’ to prey upon.
Ever wonder how it is that the church could have known of the sex abuse scandal for so many years (15 yrs at least) and did nothing to stop it, allowing the abuse to continue with the result that there were thousands of more victims from abusing priests whose abuses were “covered up” by silence, hush transfers and the like?
James Bond, Thanks for sending this to me. Paris